This film was possible by funds from Creative Partnerships Australia through the Australian Cultural Fund
A short film by Sebastian Bertoli
Produced by Laura Faulkner
Story by Jeni Bezuidenhout,
Gavin Ingham & Sebastian Bertoli
A VCA Masters of Film & Television Graduate Film
When May and Steven first meet online, their correspondence is fun and very casual. It's after meeting up in real life that they really start to get to know each other. But it's a family event that finally exposes secrets that will force them both to deal with past events that refuse to stay buried.
Watch our ACF campaign video here for some
background of the development of the film:
Jeni emigrated from South Africa at age 15. She graduated from Arts Academy (Ballarat) in 2012.
She has appeared in award-winning shorts that have screened internationally including Plunge, The Happiest Day Of My Life, and cult horror feature Cat Sick Blues.
This year Jeni played the lead in the sell-out season of Altar Girl at Adelaide Fringe in a performance which was described as “incredibly magnetic” (yaniism) and that “at times chills you to the bone, and at other times nearly makes you laugh out loud” (Emma Connell-Doherty, Great Scott). Her other theatre credits include: La Mama Theatre plays Goblins (which she co-wrote), Tip Toe, Jenny and Meet Me For Meaning. In 2014 she appeared in the sell-out season of Wendy House at Adelaide Fringe.
Jeni co-founded film and theatre production company Panopticon Collective with Sebastian Bertoli.
Jeni will be appearing in web series Back To Goode and short Death By Bloom, also screening as part of Program F at ACMI.
Eliza trained at Arts Academy (University of Ballarat), graduating in 2012.
She is active in the Melbourne theatre scene, a founding member of the successful Baker's Dozen Theatre Company.
Previously she has appeared in short film
No Junk Mail (2009) and on stage in Ruby Moon (2014), Killing Game (2013) and The Kitchen (2012).
The Significance Of Others is an exploration of two characters whose lives are in a slow-motion spiral into disarray. After all, life can be messy, lonely and surprising. This film is an exploration of these three things, in both the lives of the May and Steven, and in the lives of the ones they are connected to. More than anything, at its core, this is a film about connection.
I was interested in the way that smartphones and social networking has changed the way we connect. Or if indeed it has? On one hand it has made it easier to connect, and, on the other hand, we’re constantly distracted and distanced from each other by them.
How we connect with each other, how we connect with ourselves and our pursuit of the things that we want in our life, hasn’t changed though. And the price of pursuing what we want, especially when it involves taking from the ones we care about, is definitely just as real. And devastating.
This all sounds very dark and serious, and the story of May and Steven is, at its core, tragic. But it’s also lots of fun. They’re complicated, and charming, and awful. Aren’t we all?
I started the year with a very different idea of the graduate film that I was going to make in my final year of film school. The film that I started writing was called Seed about a fame-hungry florist and the relationship that she strikes up with her violent stalker. After I spending a good two and half months writing, toiling away for hours in the dark huddled over a laptop, I found I was spiralling into a dark place of isolation and depression that I had no idea how to escape.
Hours before we were going up on stage to pitch our films to a crowd that had been assembled of independent film crew from the Melbourne filmmaking community, I made a bold (and somewhat insane) choice. I followed my gut and decided to completely jettison the film that I had written and instead strike out on a path much less travelled: the path of developing a film through character-based improvisation.
Departing from the traditional methods of developing films that I had been taught during my time at the Victorian College Of The Arts, I chose instead to follow a path similar to ones that have been mapped out by British filmmaker Mike Leigh in the very unique way that he creates his films. I chose to interpret in my own personal style, and often deviated from, the methods and processes that are attributed to Leigh. Sometimes this was to suit my own instincts and curiosities (and the instincts of my actors) and sometimes this was necessary due to limited time, resources and circumstances.
Over the 6-8 weeks of improvisational sessions and rehearsals, my lead actors Jeni and Gavin first developed their characters separately, then their relationship together, during which the world, and ultimately the story, emerged from our sessions. In the final few weeks I brought several others characters in, taking on one myself as well - ultimately out of desperate necessity as the shoot drew alarmingly close!
We shot the scenes with most of the dialogue and some action improvised. However, in contrast to the loose and explorative early sessions, these scenes had been distilled and refined through our rehearsals following breakdowns for structure, as well as key lines, moments and plot points that would be covered every time the scene was ran.
This resulted in intensely immediate and authentic performances from the cast. It was hard work on our sound recordists David Ross and Brendan Muller who were kept on their toes as no take was the same. And on the bodies of our camera operators (DP Clement Soo and Neal Engelbrecht) who shot most of the film with two cameras simultaneously and shot most of the film handheld in takes that would sometimes last up to 7 minutes at a time.
The edit was a very challenging process as our editor Marco Treglia and I rewrote the film in a microscopic way, combing through the 6.5 hours of footage to finally arrive at the 18 minute cut we have today.
I am incredibly proud of The Significance Of Others. Many talented people have poured a tremendous amount of work, and energy, and love, into it. I hope you enjoy May and Steven’s journey watching this film as we have had discovering it.
- Sebastian Bertoli, Director/Writer, November 2017
Gavin was born and raised in Sydney, and adores his musical home town of Melbourne. He grew up on the musical influences of Sesame Street.
Since completing his training as an actor he has tried to gain a wide range of performance experience, including quite a lot of theatre work. His acting performance experience includes working with professional theatre companies, touring educational shows, writing and performing in cabarets, musicals, pantomimes, street theatre, clowning, corporate entertainment, short films and television commercials. Yes, he was “Drunk Guy no.2 coming out of the toilet” in a Drink Driving TV ad. He also appeared in The Legend Of Ben Hall (2016).
Gavin is also a writer who has had his work performed for the theatre.
He has completed the Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting at RMIT University and is currently undertaking his Masters in Screenwriting at VCA.
Sebastian trained as an actor at Arts Academy (Ballarat). He has spent the last decade acting professionally in Australia and internationally.
Most recently he appeared in Wentworth (SoHo), short film Love (dir. Gavin Ingham) and music videos for China Doll, Surkuy, and Stereolove. Other screen credits include: The Doctor Blake Mysteries (ABC), Fringe (Fox) and Emmy award-winning mini-series The Pacific (HBO).
In addition to his screen work, Sebastian also has extensive experience on stage. About his performance in The Temperamentals (Mockingbird Theatre, 2014), Ross Larkin from Theatre Press wrote, “Bertoli is exceptional as the unassuming Jannings, with the ability to maintain striking presence and poignant subtlety at once.”
Director of Photography
1st Assistant Director
2nd Assistant Director
2nd Camera Operator
1st Assistant Camera
2nd Assistant Camera
Hair and Makeup Artist
Visual Effects Artist
Post Production Supervisor
VCA Screen Production
Rebecca van Kuyk
Production of this film was possible by funds from Creative
Partnerships Australia through the Australian Cultural Fund
Thanks to our incredible Australian Cultural Fund
Eric Maddison, Peter Frith, Cassie Keen, Peter Faulkner,
Henry Bezuidenhout, Alida & Henry Bezuidenhout,
Isabelle Bertoli, Marcello & Deborah Bertoli, Sue Hogg,
Melinda Dine, Alberto Di Troia, Marie Werrett & John Gilmore
Laura Faulkner, Sharon Lapkin,
the Bezuidenhout family, the Bertoli family,
Sarah O’Shannessey (Bugalugs Cakes) & Rob Marchand
Thanks to the following for their assistance
Happy River Cafe
Maribyrnong City Council
Wyndham City Council
A Panopticon Collective/VCA School of Film & Television Production
School of Film and Television
Victorian College of the Arts
The University of Melbourne
© The University of Melbourne 2017